Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Animation with Less Domination!

…Or, has “Dad” had it? 

We’ve been a little tardy in reporting things of late, such as our post on THIS WONDERFUL ITEM, and here’s another bit of late and unfortunate news.

FOX has cancelled Seth MacFarlane’s AMERICAN DAD, during 2013 which, along with the previously reported cancellations of FUTURAMA and THE CLEVELAND SHOW, will leave 2013 as “The Year of the Prime Time Animation Massacre”! 

FOX Sunday "Animation Domination" in its Glory Days. 
I can’t honestly say I warmed up to AMERICAN DAD until relatively recently.  But, the saga of zealously over-the-top patriotic CIA operative Stan Smith, his spacey wife Francine, peace-nik teen daughter Haley, and nerdy son Steve finally worked its way into my personal “Animation Likes” place. 

Good morning, USA!

Admittedly, some of the characters were a tad hard to take, like the German-speaking mutant fish “Klaus” and flamboyant, multiple-personality disordered alien “Roger”.  FAMILY GUY, by contrast, merely asked that I accept a talking dog and a malevolent genius toddler.  EASY STUFF! 

But, the basic MacFarlane humor template, of an out-of-control “dad character” in a bizarre world of funny-weird co-stars and incessant non-sequiturs, that I so enjoy in FAMILY GUY and THE CLEVELAND SHOW, eventually shined through the more I auto-pilot-zombie-kinda-viewed AMERICAN DAD to end my Sunday evenings – and, consistent with my traditionally bad sense of timing, I decide to “like it” at pretty much the very time it gets cancelled.

He LIKES us!  ...A bit TOO LATE, but he LIKES US!

Unlike FUTURAMA and THE CLEVELAND SHOW, however, I can’t truly apply the word “cancelled”, because TBS (the network that salvaged Conan O’Brien) has picked up AMERICAN DAD for an order of 15 new episodes.  …And, perhaps there will be still more than that.  Let’s hope. 

Never give up on America, and never give up on Stan Smith!
Though, it’s not difficult to see why FOX’s Sunday night “Animation Domination” could fall on leaner times, given the popularity and quality of its competition:  Sunday Night Football, MAD MEN, THE WALKING DEAD, DOWNTON ABBEY, and more.  Indeed, it’s quite a tribute to FOX that its animation block has hung together for this long.  
Can Stan hold off the competition?  Guess not!

And, with the dual tent-poles of THE SIMPSONS and FAMILY GUY, I expect it to be around for some time to come. 
"Hey, I was only wondering which one of us had the bigger tent-pole... that's all!"
Still, given the loss of both AMERICAN DAD and THE CLEVELAND SHOW in 2013, we can’t deny that the “Domination” of FOX animation has at least been dented. 
Time for Stan to do a little FOX hunting!  His future, though, is no longer "TBA", but "TBS"!

Whatever the future, I’ll be content to recall both departed Seth MacFarlane series at their combined height, as component parts of the “Hurricane Flozell” event!  

This was a Sunday night in Fall 2011 where FAMILY GUY, AMERICAN DAD and THE CLEVELAND SHOW were subject to the ravages of fictional “Hurricane Flozell”, which blew through ALL THREE SHOWS. 
And, oddly enough both AMERICAN DAD and especially THE CLEVELAND SHOW (the two cancelled series, I must point out) outshone FAMILY GUY, and offered-up two of the best episodes of their respective series! 
"Life is like a hurr-i-caane, here in Duck-burg... er, Stoolbend, Langley Falls, and Quahog!
…And, should AMERICAN DAD ultimately go the way of FUTURAMA and THE CLEVELAND SHOW, there’s always DVD sets to keep the good times coming!  
Good things come in (Volume or Season) Threes!


joecab said...

I didn't realize the order was just for 15 episodes. Aww. I often like American Dad better than Family Guy. And I'm glad I don't need to watch the Cleveland Show anymore out of habit. (And are we all assuming his family will be moving to Quahog sometime this year?)

I'm always amazed when a show gets cancelled and is picked up by another network. The price of additional seasons for any series keeps going up, so it's odd that TBS thinks the price is justified but FOX says it's not. Unless they worked out a cheaper deal? (I dunno how it works. I'm just glad we got some more Futurama the last time this happened with FOX.)

So, anyone else not expecting much from Seth's new FOX series Bordertown?

Joe Torcivia said...

I can’t imagine that Cleveland and (as the theme song went) “…his new fam-il-lee” won’t find their way back to Quahog at some point, Joe C. Though I have far slimmer hopes for the reappearance of his “…old friends, and new friends, and ee-ven a bear”.

And, I never watched THE CLEVELAND SHOW “out of habit”. I enjoyed it all the way through. Actually, it was AMERICAN DAD that I eventually watched more “out of habit” – and, as a result, actually came to like it.

And, 15 episodes is certainly better than none – and better than the 13 we would get each season from FUTURAMA on Comedy Central. Though, I would agree that AMERICAN DAD shouldn’t be cheaper for TBS than it would have been for FOX – unless all contracts were renegotiated downward as part of the deal to continue. And, maybe on TBS, AMERICAN DAD might not face the stiff competition it faces on FOX Sunday nights. I’d expect that it also, can pull lower numbers than it already does and still be considered a success for TBS.

Can’t say I know much (anything?) about BORDERTOWN, beyond that if Seth produces it, I’ll at least give it a look. Whatever happened to his proposed version of THE FLINTSTONES? I thought that was more of a certainty.

joecab said...

The Flintstones deal is now dead: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/seth-macfarlane-flintstones-tv-series-315980

Joe Torcivia said...

NOOOOOOO! And, the news for Primetime Animation just gets worse!

Just to make it more convenient for my readers, please CLICK HERE for JoeCab’s link.

And, of course, at TIAH Blog, we don’t shoot the messenger… we THANK him, even when the news is bad. But here, we thank him with a bad “Theme Song Parody”!

Sing it with me:

“…Suuum-day, maybe Seth will win the fight,

…Then his show will be on Sunday nights!

When FOX runs Seth’s Flintstones…

[We’ll] have a Yabba-Dabba-Doo time…

…A Brian-and-Stew-time

…It’ll be a long, long, time!”


joecab said...

Ha! :D

Yeah, I'm disapointed too. Hopefully someday someone will think up a good comeback vehicle for our modern Stone Age family so that they aren't forgotten by younger viewers.

(Of course said vehicle will be propelled by foot power.)

Dan said...

Joe and Joe:

I e-mailed Joe T. yesterday about an upcoming animated "Flintstones" project——for the record, here's the info as far as I know:

There is indeed an officially green-lit "Flintstones" Direct-to-DVD project in the works for 2015: a wrestling theme with most of the bill being covered by the WWE. It will feature several of their biggest wrestling stars in a Bedrock setting (under the same deal, a WWE-themed Scooby-Doo Direct-to-Video will be released this year.)

This actually makes some sense, as we KNOW Fred and Barney like to watch wrestling matches!

The good news that I've heard is that the talented designer Shane Glines is heading up the look of the movie. Paul Dini was told by Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone (who are either supervising or consulting) that they've been studying a lot of screen grabs of the original series, seasons 1-3 in particular. So that's promising. Apparently, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm are in it too... I suppose you can't do wrestling gags without the aid of world's strongest baby.

With luck, they'll preserve the Hoyt Curtin underscore and classic H-B sound effects to keep it pure... there's been enough time away from Bedrock that it'll be nice to hear some new stone-age puns! Here's a link to the official press release:


Prior to viewing joecab's link, the last I heard on the FOX/Seth McFarlane Flintstones it was on the back-back-back burner: there was an animatic storyboard pilot produced, but Fox wanted to push the envelope further and make it edgier, butting heads with Seth who wanted to keep the tone closer to the original show. Most folks probably would think it was the other way around... but that's what *I* heard!

If the Flintstones/WWE movie does well, there may be an opportunity to revisit "The Flintstones" as a new series. I do think keeping the original tone is a wise choice and won't alienate family viewing.

Cartoonist Scott Shaw! had
one smart angle to a new series with a lot of merit: to restore Dino's Phil Silvers/Sgt. Bilko speaking voice just as he did in "The Snorkasaurus Hunter" which I think would be just as funny as Brian on Family Guy, while still staying true to the original series.

Thing is, Scott Shaw! Tony Benedict, Jerry Eisenberg, Willie Ito plus Joe Ruby and Ken Spears are still working today... wouldn't it be both wise and wonderful to have THEM consult on a new Flintstones, Jetsons, or Yogi/Huck project so it's done right? - Dan

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you for that very interesting information, Dan!

For the record, and as he noted, Dan (He of the Great Disney Comics Blog Posts) sent me these comments in a private e-mail, and I suggested that he share them with us all as a comment! It seemed perfectly in synch with the unfortunate news provided by Joecab, on the apparent demise of the Seth MacFarlane FLINTSTONES.

CLICK HERE to read Dan’s link, without pasting it into your browser. Any idea who the Flintstone voices are going to be, Dan? Frank Welker can’t do ‘em ALL, can he?

Now, given the names invoked by Dan, you’d think that I’ve be very encouraged, but WHY-OH-WHY must persons unknown at Warner Bros feel they must tie this “classic-among-classics” and “groundbreaker-among-groundbreakers” of an animated series – without which there would likely be no SIMPSONS or FAMILY GUY – to an unrelated, external entity like the WWE?!

Was this REALLY screaming to be done? Was it? Or is this just another quick way to make a buck and pump out another gimmick product that ties two things together that have no business being tethered. Yeah, I know… Curmudgeonly much, Joe?

Seth MacFarlane may have succeeded grandly with his FLINTSTONES – or it may have crashed and burned – but it would have done so on its OWN merit (or lack thereof), without the needless association with the WWE.

I feel it’s a shame that we may never know.

OH… Do I LOVE the idea of returning to the “speaking Dino”! That’s even bolder than some of the ideas I put forth in THIS POST!

And, absolutely, something should be done with the classic H-B characters while some of the classic H-B creators are still with us and able to contribute. Look how much the first season of JOHNNY BRAVO benefited from the contributions of Ed Benedict! I loved the look of those episodes! …And, as I recall, some young guy named Seth MacFarlane was hanging around that series too! ...Hmmmm!

Go watch “The Aisle of Mixed-Up Toys” (a great JOHNNY BRAVO short, with a teleplay credited to Seth MacFarlane) and tell me you don’t see the embryonic origins of Stewie Griffin in the character of “The Cubix Bomb”!

Mark Lungo said...

Not a word about BOB'S BURGERS? That series quickly became one of my favorites. The Belcher family is just hilarious, and yet their love for each other shines through.

Joe Torcivia said...


BOB’S BURGERS, like AMERICAN DAD, took a while to get to me – but I like it too! And, apparently, unlike AMERICAN DAD and THE CLEVELAND SHOW, it’s going to continue on FOX.

That’s three series and four slots. Let’s see how that shakes out.

And, as long as I’m giving “belated love” to BOB’S BURGERS, let’s also remember another of the key series of FOX Sunday night animation history – KING OF THE HILL.